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Creative spaces: Compex expansion offers balance of work and play

By Melissa Wagoner

Matt Middlestetter is giving new meaning to the term “creative space.”

The owner and information and technology specialist of Compex Two, Middlestetter has moved his company across Silverton to a 4,000 square foot building that formerly housed an automotive repair shop on Second Street. The building is being renovated to contain many creative spaces including a living wall, a patio opening directly off a learning lab and places for workers to remove themselves from the computer screen by lounging on a couch or using the climbing wall.

Yes, the company – which recently incorporated and now legally known as Compex Inc. – will have a large climbing wall for workers who need to get away from the desk and get some exercise.

“Taking time away from the screen is harder than you might think,”Middlestetter said.

He hopes offering other forms of entertainment will encourage his employees to take time away from their work once in a while.

Compex doesn’t just seek balance for its employees, however, but for the community at large. Its website lists its community outreach program – referred to as Technology with Purpose – before its service and consulting programs.

Technology with Purpose has several goals. The first is to maintain those programs that are already in place.

“Technology with Purpose is part of our give-back efforts. In the last year alone, we have donated over 150 hours to non-profits, schools and community service projects as well as done an ‘Off to College with a New Laptop’ scholarship for local high schools and given away a ‘Laptop for a Good Cause’ laptop to a local non-profit. We even play dodgeball at Silverton High School’s fundraiser event,” Heidi Hickok, an employee who has worked for Compex for the past four years, said.

The second brings technology programs directly to schools. “Our target is upper elementary and middle school youth,” Middlestetter said.

The new, larger space which was purchased with the help of a Silverton Urban Renewal Grant will enable Compex to increase its community outreach and offer aid in the form of youth programs which might be housed in its learning lab.

“We’re getting in 3-D printers and that will help. Hopefully kids will come and invent something to print, then say, ‘I made this, and now I’m interested in computers,’” Middlestetter said.

Middlestetter himself became interested in computers in middle school at Livingstone Adventist Academy in Salem.

“We didn’t have a real computer until I was 12 or 13. The first one was black and white. At that time the computer lab didn’t exist, it was typewriters,” Middlestetter said.

When his school finally did get a computer lab he was very interested.

“One of the first times I got in trouble was with computers. I didn’t realize you can’t do whatever you want with them,” he said.

Curiosity and enthusiasm has served him well. While still in high school at Sprague in Salem, Middlestetter was hired by a technology company.

“I had a pager and a badge. I would be in the middle of class and get paged.  I would say, ‘I’ve got a job so I’ve got to go,’” Middlestetter said.

Besides the community outreach programs Compex also offers medical and professional grade technology with its service and consulting programs. These programs, tailored to different sizes of businesses, offer services to businesses around the country.

“In 2013, we developed a proprietary system called Pi. It provides advanced technology features to IT-dependent businesses at an affordable price. We are an industry leader in making large scale technology available to small to medium sized businesses through Pi,” Hickok said.

Hickok recently relocated to Tacoma, Wash. and is working remotely through Pi.

“Part of what makes Pi successful is its ability to allow connectivity all over the world. By installing a specialized ‘agent’, with the owner’s permission, Compex Two is able to remotely access and even service computers via the internet,” she explained.

Hickok said remote computer access has allowed Compex  to service  clients’ computers without a lengthy drive, saving everyone time. The issues are resolved in half the time and clients are up and running without waiting for a tech to arrive onsite.

“The IT services are on call to those who need us. They have their fingers on hundreds or thousands of computers. They do the full spectrum,” Middlestetter said.

Remote technology also gives Compex and its clients the ability to expand their workforce without relocating employees. Through the programs Compex implements, clients are able to hire the best employees who work in different areas of the country but are still able to communicate and work together.

“We allow the clients flexibility to grow their business,” Hickok said.

All of this could cost clients a lot, but Compex also strives to keep costs low for their customers.

“We don’t like complex technology because it’s always broke. We put the businesses first,” Middlestetter said.

“We put business before technology, but people before both,” the Compex website states.

“We have full-time on-premise employees, full-time off premise, and part-time,” Middlestetter said. “Part of the goal of the new building is to retain more people in Silverton in-house. Also, we’re hiring, so that’s very exciting.”

Another part of the expansion is the continuation of the Compex commitment to sustainable business practices.

“We have been EarthWISE certified for many years and were one of the first companies in Willamette Valley to have an electric car available for employees,” Hickok said. Compex also practices onsite recycling, waste reduction and prevention, water and energy conservation, and sustainable purchasing.

“Believe it or not you can buy computers that are bad for the environment and less bad for the environment,” Middlestetter said.

He is hoping for a December or January opening at the new facility, allowing the community to come and view the operation. In the meantime, although the business has already moved, a lot of work remains.

“A lot of our work on the building has to be done after hours so we can still help clients,” Middlestetter said.

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